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Zuckerman Spaeder LLP Files Amicus Brief in Landmark Domestic Violence Case Before Washington State Supreme Court

March 15, 2004

On March 15, 2004, Zuckerman Spaeder attorneys Eleanor H. Smith and David Byrd submitted an amicus brief to the Washington State Supreme Court on behalf of the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), NOW Legal Defense Fund and 22 other national, state, and local organizations dedicated to assisting victims of domestic violence. The amicus brief supports the petition for review of Cherry Gilbert, the former wife of a King County sheriff's deputy. Ms. Gilbert sought and obtained a protective order against her husband, which prohibited him from possessing guns, after he pointed a loaded gun at her and her sister and threatened to "blow [her sister's] brains out."

During subsequent divorce proceedings — in an unprecedented decision — a separate judge denied Ms. Gilbert any share of her husband's police pension in the distribution of marital property, reasoning that because Ms. Gilbert had obtained a protective order against her violently abusive husband, he lost his job as a sheriff's deputy, and thus she is not entitled to any portion of his police pension. The amicus brief argues that the lower court ruling is wrong as a matter of law and public policy and will have a chilling effect on victims of domestic violence who might otherwise seek protective orders against abusive partners.

The amicus brief was prepared as part of Zuckerman Spaeder's pro bono program. To view the amicus brief in PDF format, click on "Related Downloads" to the left.

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